If you fancy the spring time woods and the beautiful sounds of gobblers sounding off followed by a shotgun blast, you probably know how to pick a box call. If you’ve yet to tag your first bird, you’re in luck these are five of the best turkey box calls you can buy for your hunt.
Why a Box Call?
A box call is a type of turkey call that relies on the friction caused by rubbing two pieces of wood together. There’s a few types of box call but the most common turkey call in the woods is a paddle box call. It’s common because it’s simple to use and works extremely well.
The call is great for beginner’s because it’s easy to get a good consistent sound out of the box and it’s great for advanced users because of how versatile it is in the woods.
Just because the call is easy to use doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice. On the contrary, this is an important call to practice because so many hunters head into the woods and make bad noises with them. If you do your part the ox call will serve you well in just about every hunting situation.
Things about Box Calls
Box calls aren’t all rosy. They do require some maintenance and a few things to look out for. First, the wood needs to be bone dry. The wood needs to be kiln dried before the call is built and the call has to be kept as dry as possible. If any surface water gets on the call, you have to wait a day or more for the call to dry out.
The call also needs to be chalked and in good condition to work. If any deep gouges are carved into the wood, it may become useless. Without a fine coating of box call chalk, the call is worthless. Make sure you bring some with you and plan ahead to protect your call.
Our Top 5 Best Turkey Box Calls
This is an excellent turkey call. It is an old-school design and has just about every “nice to have” feature you can think of. Its hand made in the USA and is made from genuine mahogany of varying grades to make different tones.
The coolest thing about this call is that each side of the box is designed for different tones. One side is made specifically for gobblers and the other specifically for hen. So that you won’t get them confuse them, there’s engraved instruction on either side of the call.
There’s a small system of hook and rubber bands built into the call to secure the paddle to the call so it won’t start clucking while you walk. This is a traditional call so you need high quality chalk and keep the call clean and dry.
This is really an excellent call, great tone quality, great features and a good price. There’s not a whole lot to say about this call other than it works well and you should buy it.
- Silent Carry
- Excellent Tone
- More Versatile
- Not Waterproof
- Needs Chalk
- Harder to use
If you hunt no matter what the weather man says, you need to be prepared for all conditions he may call for. That means having a plan when a monsoon opens up and soaks all your gear. That can be a huge problem if you use friction calls in the spring and expect them to work.
This call helps solve that problem by coating the calling surfaces in a material that will work if the call is bone dry or if it was just dunked into a bucket of water. The hardest thing about this call is making sure it stays quiet when it’s not supposed to be calling.
The coating makes it so sensitive you can really get soft yelps and clucks out of the box. It’s 100% wood, double sided and shaped with a comfortable lip around the bottom that makes calling and carrying it easy with no risk of dropping it.
- Chalk Free
- Rattles When you Carry it
Rain is the enemy of turkey calls. Almost all common turkey calls are operated from friction. The rain will kill the friction but the new generation of turkey calls are becoming less and less affected by weather.
This is one of those calls it is completely weather proof, as long as the call is in a single piece, it’s good to go. You could literally dunk this call into a bucket of water, pull it out and then carry it into the woods and call birds.
The box is made from wood from tip to paddle and is double sided with the same tone on each side. It is billed as not needing any tuning and no adjusting and that seems right. It is extremely easy to make a sound with this box so make sure you keep it quiet as you’re walking.
The greatest aspect of this call by far is how little maintenance you need to keep this call running. You’ll never need to worry about chalk, or keep it dry in storage or the correct spring pressure, this call just works.
- Chalk Free
- Rattles When you Carry it
- Sensitive to Angle to Make Good Tones
One of the ultimate foibles in the turkey woods is sounding off a call at the wrong moment. The old trick I was thought as a young hunter was to use a small bit of cloth tucked inside the box with a rubber band over the paddle to keep the call silent as you walk through the woods and as you get it out and ready to use.
Primos, the call making super power, makes a call for people who want a much better solution. This is their Hook-Up Magnetic call that includes magnets in the call that replace the springs and a secondary magnetic that keeps the call closed while you walk around with the call in your pocket.
The call its self is a standard box call with good sound quality. You have to keep it clean, dry and chalked for it to work but you can count on this call to make a sound when you need it to and to keep quiet you don’t.
The magnets in the call and the angles you can manipulate the call allows you to make perfect sounds and volumes without the worry of it going off in your pack or a spring causing a malfunction.
- Spring Free
- Stays Closed When Carrying
- Good Sound Quality
- Requires Chalk
- Not Waterproof
This is one of those last-ditch items. For when you really need to reach out and get the gobblers ear you need a big ole call like this one. It’s loud, it’s proud and if you hunt turkeys every day, one day you’ll wish you had one but you’ll also never want to carry it.
The tone quality on this box is a little sacrificed and is hard to get consistent because of the size of the call and variances of the wood. You’ll have a hard time keeping this thing chalked up and ready to go so carrying it in the field is going to be difficult. I have this call and I use it specifically as a locator call in mid-morning or afternoon.
Especially when I hunt from a boat, as I slip along in a vehicle or boat I hit this call and it travels far enough to reach anything in the woods. As a standard call, this is awful it’s too big to use while remaining concealed and way too loud. It’s designed as a locator and one of the best you can use.
- Extremely Loud
- Can be too loud
- Very Large
- Requires Chalk
- Not Waterproof
Turkey Box Call Tips
Keep it Dry
The legacy box call designs use chalk and dry wood to produce sounds. The newer designs are waterproof because if the old designs got even a little wet they’d be useless. All calls including the "water poof" calls need to kept dry because the water proof line just means that it will make a sound wile wet but if the wood absorbs too much water, it won't vibrate and make the correct sound.
Tune the Call
While your practicing your calling, make sure the calling sounds accurate. Most all box calls come pre-tuned so little adjustments like spring tension or the amount of chalk on the call can make a huge difference. Make sure the call is making a good tune before you head out.
Make Room for More Calls
If you learn more than one call, you’re going to want to carry more than one call. You’ll also likely carry multiples of the same kind of call.
Learn More Than One Call
Yes, you can call a turkey with just a single yelp from a box call. You’ll enjoy more success and have a much better time working several different calls and be more confident as a turkey hunter if you know what you’re doing in more than one way.
Practice Well before the Season
Right around Christmas time every year, I start busting out the calls and gearing up for the season. If you think you can wait until the calls hit store shelves to get good at it, you’re putting yourself in a disadvantage. Order one online if you have to, there’s plenty out there, just get practicing as early as possible.
Take to the High Ground
Calling a gobbler downhill is almost always going to be a problem. For some reason, they just don’t like it. Especially in a thick and heavy area you’ll be hard pressed to find a bird willing to go downhill to a call. Walk along ridges and drop down just low enough off to hide your silhouette, then start calling.
Call like a Gobbler
Making a hen yelp is the easiest call to make but it doesn’t always work. Late in the season an assembly call that is deeper and slightly clearer, making it more like a gobbler, can work when hen calling won’t.
Make Small Movements
When you’re calling inevitably you’re going to have to move. Even if it’s opening your jaw to make a mouth call. Working a box call is inherently a big movement, make sure it’s behind a bush, between your legs, or in a ground blind. Otherwise you’re going to run the birds off to the next county.
Keep it Quiet!
When you’re walking in the woods you need to be 100 silent. Even your footsteps need to be muffled and camouflaged. That means if you have that sweet new box call in your pocket banging up against a spare shot gun shell, you’re going to to ruin your hunt. Try slipping a small piece of cloth in between the paddle and the body of the box all to prevent shaking and bumping while walking or getting the call out.
The market is flooded with lookalike and sound alike products and turkey calls aren’t any different. If you don’t have time to sit around and listen to every single call that comes out stick to one of the five calls recommended above, they are some of the best turkeys box calls ever made.
They’re classics and proven designs that will produce realistic turkey calls on demand-just do your part. Never the less, all these calls are extremely easy to use and you should certainly have one.
At the end of the day though, the box call is just a tool at your disposal that you can use to kill turkeys. If you’re not out killing turkeys than it’s just a waste, get your hands on a good call practice up and get into the field to chase birds!